I’m working on some new music which is a commentary on the last decade.  I went away and researched the major UK news stories for each year from 2010, and found some news footage and wrote some music and added some loops and effects and stuff, as I do.  And it’s coming along, thanks, but I’m not sure how to describe it.

Agitprop is a word with fully justifiable negative connotations, but perhaps Agit-trip hop is as near as I can get. As part of this project, I’ve been researching agitprop and particularly subvertising, where real adverts are subverted – a good example is this one:


Subvertising can also include basic graffiti, too:


These are both from an interesting article at Films For Action.

I think I’m now working out a means to subvert audio recordings by using effects, or by chopping and cutting, or by both.  My ambition is to produce the audio equivalent of these two posters.  I’m not really one for rioting and marching, although it might come to that, but I do think we should be challenging our “leaders”, particularly when their motives aren’t clear and transparent.  I’d be deluding myself if I expected my cutting up their interview audio and reassembling it would change their minds about anything, but at least it’s a safety valve against me throwing a shoe at the television every time the news come on.

My goal is to be able to bring establishment stupidity to the audience’s attention using pre-recorded audio.  It’s similar to a genre called Audio Agitprop, using clips from speeches, press conferences and news, and manipulating them in the context of a song, which was the subject of an interesting paper by Mark Dery in 1993.  As ever, I’m not exactly on the leading edge of this!   But I think mine is a slightly different approach – the technique is the same as lots of other things I’ve been doing for some time, but the technology enables much more manipulation than it did in 1990!

Most political music uses a lyric to make the point, and Audio Agitprop mainly seems to do that – I guess Paul Hardcastle’s 19 (from 1985!) is a bit of an exception, although I don’t think it was particularly political in the outcome.  The much wider genre would include a raft of people who produce work I really like, from Public Enemy, The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Gil Scott-Heron, back to Billy Bragg and further, and of course the current generation of British dance musicians.  The politics of all of these is in the lyrics, and I’m trying not to do that.  I suppose it’s inevitable that the person manipulating the audio brings their own agenda to a finished mashup, but my view is most politicians say enough stupid stuff for me not to need to do very much to make that point.

I’ve done quite a bit of research to find anyone else doing this, and I can’t find anything much – this either means I’ve invented something amazing, or I’ve invented something nobody wants!  Sign up to my newsletter, and you’ll be among the first to hear these things, once I’ve finished them!

#filmsforaction #markdery #audioagitprop #culturejamming


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